The RARE-HUB group proposal
The RARE-Hub Group would harvest, store and distribute clean, sustainable Renewable Energy for:
Emergency electricity [i.e., providing ‘resilience’ to certain commercial concerns in the area & to support essential local Civil Defence organisations such as Fire & Ambulance Services as well as Riverton’s Medical Centre]
Domestic cooking and water heating [Using the H2 as a source of thermal energy]
Agricultural activities, in particular to help improve diversity, productivity and income of farms by assisting in developing and selling on-farm generated electricity and H2.
Sustainable, alternative transport fuel [electricity & H2]
Battery-electric [BE], H2-Fuel-Cell [H2FC], or ‘Hybrid’ BE/H2FC ‘On-demand’ Public Transport vehicles. [Both road-going &, potentially, airborne, as relevant technology develops]
Helping to possibly improve water quality
Introducing and maintaining more competitive [ideally, lower] local and regional electricity prices, which are escalating at too great a rate.
Creating new employment opportunities;
Reducing environmental pollution.
Supporting other community-focussed projects
The Riverton Aparima Renewable Energy Hub Group ["The RARE-Hub Group"] is a not-for-profit Incorporated Society, operating as a Social Enterprise.
It was set up to research, assist and support sustainable use of renewable energy and hydrogen to help our NZ rural community become energy self-reliant. The following sections explain:
1) what sustainable energy is,
2) how we can harness this to further help the rural economy through energy-self-sufficiency, and
3) how hydrogen/hydrogen fuel cells can be used to store and dispatch electricity as and when required.
Fig 1- Representation of distributed electricity system in a small community using renewable resources to produce self-sufficient electricity. Note: only some of the projects depicted in this picture are currently being proposed. Figure adapted from Fig1.2 of International Energy Agency 2014.
1) Sustainable energy sources
Sustainable use of energy means using energy in an environmentally conscious way for generations to come. New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world where the majority (~80%) of our electricity supply is sourced from renewable resources (particularly our pre-existing hydro-powered plants). Yet when we look at the overall energy usage, which includes electricity, diesel, LPG, petrol and natural gas, almost 60% of our energy is sourced from non-renewables. This large share of non-renewables in our overall energy consumption is alarming given the context in which we should be progressing towards zero carbon emissions by the year 2050.
The RARE-HUB Group is planning to operate zero-emission electric vehicles. Initially they will be Battery-Electric Vehicles, or 'BEVs'.
Eventually, we hope to help introduce infrastructure to support Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicles to assist in the transition to a low carbon/pollution economy.
2) Energy-self sufficiency
The cost of transmitting and distributing electricity from generation units hundreds of km away is costly. In a rural setting, buying electricity from such a centralised system can be expensive, as the average price to the consumer may be higher in rural areas than that of urban areas.
If electricity is generated locally, say within 5-10 km from the community or on house roofs, then this may reduce the overall cost of electricity production. This form of electricity generation is known as distributed electricity, as the electricity is generated locally and not transported from distant generation facilities. Many rural areas throughout the world are benefitting from such distributed forms of electricity.
The RARE-HUB Group is planning to incorporate solar, wind and mini hydro-powered plant to power the Riverton region with reliable and sustainable electricity. Given that solar and wind are weather dependent, the group also envisions the eventual implementation of operating sustainable Hydrogen Fuel Cells to provide reliable electricity supplies.
3) Hydrogen/ Hydrogen powered fuel cell
Hydrogen production/consumption, and Hydrogen Fuel Cells, are central components of the proposal, as Hydrogen has the potential to store energy when an excess of electricity is produced. This stored electricity will then be used when there is absence of sun or insufficient wind velocity. The Hydrogen Fuel Cells will complement battery arrays.